Walt Whitman | |
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand
singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or
at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of
the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day--at night the party of young fellows,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
Christina Rossetti | |
One face looks out from all his canvases,
One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:
We found her hidden just behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
A nameless girl in freshest summer-greens,
A saint, an angel—every canvas means
The same one meaning, neither more nor less.
He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him,
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:
Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
No as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.
Maya Angelou | |
When I was young, I used to
Watch behind the curtains
As men walked up and down the street.
Wino men, old men.
Young men sharp as mustard.
Men are always
They knew I was there.
Years old and starving for them.
Under my window, they would pauses,
Their shoulders high like the
Breasts of a young girl,
Jacket tails slapping over
One day they hold you in the
Palms of their hands, gentle, as if you
Were the last raw egg in the world.
They tighten up.
Just a little.
First squeeze is nice.
A quick hug.
Soft into your defenselessness.
The hurt begins.
Wrench out a
Smile that slides around the fear.
Your mind pops, exploding fiercely, briefly,
Like the head of a kitchen match.
It is your juice
That runs down their legs.
Staining their shoes.
When the earth rights itself again,
And taste tries to return to the tongue,
Your body has slammed shut.
No keys exist.
Then the window draws full upon
There, just beyond
The sway of curtains, men walk.
But this time, I will simply
Stand and watch.
More great poems below...
Thomas Hardy | |
"O 'Melia, my dear, this does everything crown!
Who could have supposed I should meet you in Town?
And whence such fair garments, such prosperi-ty?"--
"O didn't you know I'd been ruined?" said she.
--"You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks,
Tired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks;
And now you've gay bracelets and bright feathers three!"--
"Yes: that's how we dress when we're ruined," said she.
--"At home in the barton you said 'thee' and 'thou,'
And 'thik oon,' and 'theäs oon,' and 't'other'; but now
Your talking quite fits 'ee for high compa-ny!"--
"Some polish is gained with one's ruin," said she.
--"Your hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleak
But now I'm bewitched by your delicate cheek,
And your little gloves fit as on any la-dy!"--
"We never do work when we're ruined," said she.
--"You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream,
And you'd sigh, and you'd sock; but at present you seem
To know not of megrims or melancho-ly!"--
One's pretty lively when ruined," said she.
"--I wish I had feathers, a fine sweeping gown,
And a delicate face, and could strut about Town!"--
"My dear--a raw country girl, such as you be,
Cannot quite expect that.
You ain't ruined," said she.
William Butler Yeats | |
I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.
When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.
Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
John Keats | |
IN a drear-nighted December
Too happy happy tree
Thy branches ne'er remember
Their green felicity:
The north cannot undo them 5
With a sleety whistle through them;
Nor frozen thawings glue them
From budding at the prime.
In a drear-nighted December
Too happy happy brook 10
Thy bubblings ne'er remember
Apollo's summer look;
But with a sweet forgetting
They stay their crystal fretting
Never never petting 15
About the frozen time.
Ah! would 'twere so with many
A gentle girl and boy!
But were there ever any
Writhed not at pass¨¨d joy? 20
To know the change and feel it
When there is none to heal it
Nor numb¨¨d sense to steal it
Was never said in rhyme.
Wang Wei | |
There's a girl from Loyang in the door across the street,
She looks fifteen, she may be a little older.
While her master rides his rapid horse with jade bit an bridle,
Her handmaid brings her cod-fish in a golden plate.
On her painted pavilions, facing red towers,
Cornices are pink and green with peach-bloom and with willow,
Canopies of silk awn her seven-scented chair,
And rare fans shade her, home to her nine-flowered curtains.
Her lord, with rank and wealth and in the bud of life,
Exceeds in munificence the richest men of old.
He favours this girl of lowly birth, he has her taught to dance;
And he gives away his coral-trees to almost anyone.
The wind of dawn just stirs when his nine soft lights go out,
Those nine soft lights like petals in a flying chain of flowers.
Between dances she has barely time for singing over the songs;
No sooner is she dressed again than incense burns before her.
Those she knows in town are only the rich and the lavish,
And day and night she is visiting the hosts of the gayest mansions.
Who notices the girl from Yue with a face of white jade,
Humble, poor, alone, by the river, washing silk?
Sappho | |
That country girl has witched your wishes
all dressed up in her country clothes
and she hasn't got the sense
to hitch her rags above her ankles.
--Translated by Jim Powell
Piccolo and been-throated pibroch
Dilating dimpled hood
Spreading photometric darkroom eyes
Waxing waxing matching
Venomous lip to music's piping lip
O Queen of stung dragon mouthed Po
Dancing girl of nuanceless ancient reliefs
The apotheosis Brahman curling on the neck
Must you now sink sink
Into the winding womb wickerwork
Watching watching pipe-eyed watching
Until you slip
Over the sill of the pipe and the lip
Anathema! Amorphous piteous anathema!
Amulet of Siva!
Licking the boneless air companionless
Then slithering to lie on the trodden path
Must you have this one last lick
A lick that
Or ripple tailless
In the reedy gust
To the squat charmer's
There was a little boy and a little girl
Lived in an alley;
Says the little boy to the little girl,
"Shall I, oh, shall I?"
Says the little girl to the little boy,
"What shall we do?"
Says the little boy to the little girl,
"I will kiss you.
"Little girl, little girl, where have you been?"
"Gathering roses to give to the Queen.
"Little girl, little girl, what gave she you?"
"She gave me a diamond as big as my shoe.
Up at Piccadilly, oh!
The coachman takes his stand,
And when he meets a pretty girl
He takes her by the hand;
Whip away forever, oh!
Drive away so clever, oh!
All the way to Bristol, oh!
He drives her four-in-hand.
When I was a little girl, about seven years old,
I hadn't got a petticoat, to cover me from the cold.
So I went into Darlington, that pretty little town,
And there I bought a petticoat, a cloak, and a gown.
I went into the woods and built me a kirk,
And all the birds of the air, they helped me to work.
The hawk with his long claws pulled down the stone,
The dove with her rough bill brought me them home.
The parrot was the clergyman, the peacock was the clerk,
The bullfinch played the organ,--we made merry work.
The girl in the lane, that couldn't speak plain,
Cried, "Gobble, gobble, gobble":
The man on the hill that couldn't stand still,
Went hobble hobble, hobble.
There was a little girl who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead;
When she was good, she was very, very good,
And when she was bad she was horrid.
A pretty girl at time o' gloaming
Hath whispered me to go and meet her
Without the city gate.
I love her, but she tarries coming.
Shall I return, or stay and greet her?
I burn, and wait.
Truly she charmeth all beholders,
'Tis she hath given me this jewel,
The jade of my delight;
But this red jewel-jade that smoulders,
To my desire doth add more fuel,
New charms to-night.
She has gathered with her lily fingers
A lily fair and rare to see.
Oh! sweeter still the fragrance lingers
From the warm hand that gave it me.
Marcin Malek | |
Long stalks of rain
are growing from the skies
down towards ash-black soil,
softer than deer hearts
frozen in concentration
at river banks
Everything that is not here
lies beyond these waters – more effusive
than a fisherman’s song,
when come evening time
they sail back to theirs rocky homes
settled at Shannon’s ridges
winding like a maggot in a downpour
and greener still
than eyes of women
that bear the same name
Wise men of Cuilcagh –
the orchard’s guardians
they knew the danger,
sowing the seeds of forbidden fruits
That she will come – an innocent girl
Who’d turn her lips and then flow
like morning dew into the world
of underground streams
And when September fog will fall
her ghost will rise up through the night
and like a sea gull at open sea
hanging in midair, once more,
she will look
into the depths of Lough Allen
Marcin Malek | |
Deep on a forest path
young girl with cherry lips
emerge like glossy nymph
There among the soaked green
old alders seems to be higher
and no one had heard
about the dialectic of being
On top of tallest tree
bird has sung a song
that somewhere near
time froze as someone's spirit
Hope does not exist
under the wild mauve –
aged oak sheds its husk
everything that came before
is fading as an eye
gazed into the dusk
Ruth Stone | |
It is spring when the storks return.
They rise from storied roofs.
In the quick winter afternoon
you lie on your bed
with a library book close to your face,
your body on a single bed,
and the storks rise
with the sound of a lifted sash.
You know without looking
that a servant girl
is leaning out in the soft foreign air.
A slow spiral of smoke
from green firewood
is reflected in her eyes.
She moves down an outside stair
absently driving the poultry.
The storks are standing on the roof.
The girl wraps her hands in her apron.
Small yellow flowers
have clumped among the tussocks
of coarse grass.
She listens with her mouth open
to something you cannot hear.
Your body is asleep.
She does not know a cavalry is coming
on a mud-rutted road,
and men with minds like ferrets
are stamping their heavy boots
along the pages.
Erin Belieu | |
Omaha, Nebraska They do not sleep nights
but stand between
rows of glowing corn and
cabbages grown on acres past
the edge of the city.
their nightgowns furl and
unfurl around their legs.
Only women could be this
they are sterile
and it appears that
their mouths are always
Because they are thin
as weeds, the albinos
If you drive out
to the farm, tree branches will
point the way.
No map will show
where, no phone is listed.
It will seem that the moon, plump
above their shoulders, is constant,
orange as harvest all year
We say, when a mother
gives birth to an albino girl,
she feigns sleep after
labor while an Asian
man steals in, spirits
the pale baby away.
W S Merwin | |
The sleep that flits on baby's eyes-does anybody know from where
it comes? Yes, there is a rumour that it has its dwelling where,
in the fairy village among shadows of the forest dimly lit with
glow-worms, there hang two shy buds of enchantment.
From there it
comes to kiss baby's eyes.
The smile that flickers on baby's lips when he sleeps-does
anybody know where it was born? Yes, there is a rumour that a young
pale beam of a crescent moon touched the edge of a vanishing autumn
cloud, and there the smile was first born in the dream of a dew
washed morning-the smile that flickers on baby's lips when he
The sweet, soft freshness hat blooms on baby's limbs-does
anybody know where it was hidden so long? Yes, when the mother was
a young girl it lay pervading her heart in tender and silent
mystery of love-the sweet, soft freshness that has bloomed on
Stephen Vincent Benet | |
The last pose flickered, failed.
The screen's dead white
Glared in a sudden flooding of harsh light
Stabbing the eyes; and as I stumbled out
The curtain rose.
A fat girl with a pout
And legs like hams, began to sing "His Mother".
Gusts of bad air rose in a choking smother;
Smoke, the wet steam of clothes, the stench of plush,
Powder, cheap perfume, mingled in a rush.
I stepped into the lobby -- and stood still
Struck dumb by sudden beauty, body and will.
Cleanness and rapture -- excellence made plain --
The storming, thrashing arrows of the rain!
Pouring and dripping on the roofs and rods,
Smelling of woods and hills and fresh-turned sods,
Black on the sidewalks, gray in the far sky,
Crashing on thirsty panes, on gutters dry,
Hurrying the crowd to shelter, making fair
The streets, the houses, and the heat-soaked air, --
Merciful, holy, charging, sweeping, flashing,
It smote the soul with a most iron clashing! .
Like dragons' eyes the street-lamps suddenly gleamed,
Yellow and round and dim-low globes of flame.
And, scarce-perceived, the clouds' tall banners streamed.
Out of the petty wars, the daily shame,
Beauty strove suddenly, and rose, and flowered.
I gripped my coat and plunged where awnings lowered.
Made one with hissing blackness, caught, embraced,
By splendor and by striving and swift haste --
Spring coming in with thunderings and strife --
I stamped the ground in the strong joy of life!
Oliver Wendell Holmes | |
OH for one hour of youthful joy!
Give back my twentieth spring!
I'd rather laugh, a bright-haired boy,
Than reign, a gray-beard king.
Off with the spoils of wrinkled age!
Away with Learning's crown!
Tear out life's Wisdom-written page,
And dash its trophies down!
One moment let my life-blood stream
From boyhood's fount of flame!
Give me one giddy, reeling dream
Of life all love and fame!
My listening angel heard the prayer,
And, calmly smiling, said,
"If I but touch thy silvered hair
Thy hasty wish hath sped.
"But is there nothing in thy track,
To bid thee fondly stay,
While the swift seasons hurry back
To find the wished-for day?"
"Ah, truest soul of womankind!
Without thee what were life ?
One bliss I cannot leave behind:
I'll take-- my-- precious-- wife!"
The angel took a sapphire pen
And wrote in rainbow dew,
The man would be a boy again,
And be a husband too!
"And is there nothing yet unsaid,
Before the change appears?
Remember, all their gifts have fled
With those dissolving years.
"Why, yes;" for memory would recall
My fond paternal joys;
"I could not bear to leave them all--
I'll take-- my-- girl-- and-- boys.
The smiling angel dropped his pen,--
"Why, this will never do;
The man would be a boy again,
And be a father too!"
And so I laughed,-- my laughter woke
The household with its noise,--
And wrote my dream, when morning broke,
To please the gray-haired boys.
Paul Laurence Dunbar | |
Come to the pane, draw the curtain apart,
There she is passing, the girl of my heart;
See where she walks like a queen in the street,
Weather-defying, calm, placid and sweet.
Tripping along with impetuous grace,
Joy of her life beaming out of her face,
Tresses all truant-like, curl upon curl,
Wind-blown and rosy, my little March girl.
Hint of the violet's delicate bloom,
Hint of the rose's pervading perfume!
How can the wind help from kissing her face,—
Wrapping her round in his stormy embrace?
But still serenely she laughs at his rout,
She is the victor who wins in the bout.
So may life's passions about her soul swirl,
Leaving it placid,—my little March girl.
What self-possession looks out of her eyes!
What are the wild winds, and what are the skies,
Frowning and glooming when, brimming with life,
Cometh the little maid ripe for the strife?
Ah! Wind, and bah! Wind, what might have you now?
What can you do with that innocent brow?
Blow, Wind, and grow, Wind, and eddy and swirl,
But bring to me, Wind,—my little March girl.
Majeed Amjad | |
Where is she … ?!
That girl who stood on these ramparts years ago
Statuesque … iconic …besieged by the world
A deity … worshiped by the early glow of my dreams !
Where is she now ?
That crazy-headed rebellious Truth
With the restless, quivering eye lashes
Who came to refute the sham of this world.
Under these ramparts,
My breath is still patched and mended
By the soft breeze of her existence
Which once did battle against eternal stony walls
But I wonder where she rests now
That crazy-headed rebellious Truth ?
This is how young, unfolding lives
With their tinkling laughter
Are lost forever in a dark enduring slumber
What manner of sleep is this
Whose sea-waves slowly crumble and erode
All islands of the heart ?
What kind of dreams are these
That swim within this sleep
Floating back … returning again and again… forever in this deep slumber ?
whose childhood glow never fades away !!
(Translated by Talat Afroze from the original Urdu text of the poem: Moortee);